Johnson: USA:n talous kestäisi koronnoston

VIDEO: Morningstarin pääekonomisti uskoo Yhdysvaltain talouden vahvistuneen jo niin paljon, että korkoja voitaisiin alkaa nostaa. Kansainvälisesti paine on pitää korot ennallaan.

Jeremy Glaser 14.09.2015
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Jeremy Glaser: For Morningstar, I'm Jeremy Glaser. Ahead of the Fed's meeting next week, I'm sitting down with Bob Johnson, our director of economy analysis, to look at some recent U.S. economic data to see if our economy is being impacted by what's happening overseas.

Bob, thanks for joining me.

Bob Johnson: Great to be here today.

Glaser: Let's start with the JOLTS data, which is on job openings and labor turnover from the Department of Labor. Did it give us any new insight on what's happening with the labor market right now?

Johnson: I think it probably it did. I think the markets have actually reacted to the strong JOLTS number. There are 5.75 million job openings right now, which is the highest number in recorded history, though it only goes back to 2001. But nevertheless, that is an unusually high number of openings. So, I think that certainly has everybody thinking that maybe the employment market is stronger than we all thought. We saw the low unemployment rate last week, and so now maybe that has created some fears that the labor market is pretty strong. If that's the case, the Fed might feel just a little bit more inclined to raise rates.

Glaser: So, if we have 5.75 million openings, where are those jobs? Are they mostly on the low-wage scale or on the higher-end scale? Where are these shortages?

Johnson: I think it was probably a little bit more this time around in lower-skill jobs. I don't think that's necessarily a really great thing, but it's consistent with some things we are seeing. We know there are a lot of hotels going up. We know that restaurant eating has really picked up--restaurant sales are up 8%. We've talked many times recently about how people going out to eat more is a real show of confidence. They are eating out and buying fewer groceries in the store--food sales in grocery stores are nearly flat. So, I guess we'd expect there to be more openings for restaurant workers, and there certainly have been. The hotel industry has been one of the stronger industries as well and, again, the people added in that industry are contributing to the numbers.

Glaser: We got a read on small-business optimism. Are there any signs that small-business owners are concerned about what's happening in China and elsewhere?

Johnson: Not yet--not in the overall reading. You'd think with all the terrible headlines and the stock market turmoil that this would have an impact. This group seems a little bit prone, once in a while, to reading headlines and reacting negatively when the headlines are bad. But surprisingly, the small-business optimism ticked up 0.5 to 96.5, so there's clearly been no impact there.

Glaser: And what about the federal budget deficit? Is that still on track for the federal fiscal year?

Johnson: Absolutely. Nothing revenue-wise has been affected there. The deficit now through the first 11 months--that is, through the end of August--looked like it was about $528 billion. Typically, when we get to the last month--which is September--what we see is a huge jump in revenues because there are tax due dates for both corporations and individuals all in the same month. I believe it's the second-biggest collections month for the government outside of April 15 when we all have to file our taxes.

So, if you get a $100 billion improvement, which is pretty typical for September, that would put the deficit at about $428 billion for the full year, which is very much in line with what the Congressional Budget Office came up with just a few weeks ago at $425 billion. As recently as two or three months ago, they were thinking the deficit would be little changed, at about $485 billion for the year. So clearly, we've had some good news there this year.

Glaser: You also watch the weekly retail sales, which can be a warning if there are problems with the consumer. Any signs that consumers are holding back with some of the market volatility?

Johnson: It's just not there yet. On a five-week moving average year-over-year basis, retail sales are up about 2.4%. If you combine that with the strong, strong auto sales that we saw in August, it certainly appears that the consumer is not panicking. So, we have the consumer thinking things are fine, and we've got small businessmen thinking things are fine. And then with regular businesses, we've talked recently about construction spending being up. It doesn't seem like anybody here is panicking anyway. So, the news is good, and I think the economy will do better than people anticipated.

Glaser: So, if the signs are that the U.S. economy isn't seeing a big impact yet from anything happening overseas, what does this mean for the Fed next week? Are they looking at this data or do you think they've already made up their minds after the jobs report?

Johnson: I think the jobs report was confusing enough that you could take it any way that you wanted, and the JOLTS report this morning would seem to indicate that maybe things were a little bit stronger and that maybe the more positive parts of the jobs report last week are what we should be focusing on. So clearly, the job market looks pretty healthy, and I think that's obviously one of the two things that they are really watching--the other being inflation. So, I'd say that would tend to indicate that they may just go for it.

On the other hand, many world bankers--the World Bank and IMF, in particular--are really putting on the pressure and saying if you do this, you're not just potentially hurting yourselves, you're hurting us and you're hurting emerging markets, in particular. Whether or not they take that international view, they've certainly indicated that they look at the data. But most of the comments have always been couched in how what happens overseas might affect what happens in the U.S. [They haven't really made comments about how a Fed decision might] independently ruin international economies, and that's the wild card in the whole situation. Otherwise, I think they might tend toward actually raising the rates at the September meeting.

Glaser: Bob, thanks for your take on this. We'll talk with you next week after the Fed makes their decision.

Johnson: Thank you.

Glaser: For Morningstar, I'm Jeremy Glaser. Thanks for watching. 

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